“Everything you are against weakens you. Everything you are for empowers you.” Wayne Dyer
Coming to terms with one’s current personal difficulties is vital for personal growth and to live a fulfilling and happy life. Maybe you struggle with a tendency toward anger or depression. Perhaps you’ve found yourself in a destructive pattern of drinking or compulsive eating. It’s possible that you’ve been through a string of abusive relationships.
At any rate, you’re unhappy with the way things have been going and you sincerely want things to be different in the future. Fortunately, your options are many.
You might enter into individual couples, or group therapy, where you can discuss your troubles in a safe environment, come to a better understanding of the dynamics at play, and receive guidance in developing healthier patterns.
In addition, numerous support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Al-Anon, Debtors Anonymous, and Overeaters Anonymous, along with non-12-Step programs, exist, that hold weekly meetings at locations all over the world. Such support communities have been invaluable to millions of people struggling with addictive and compulsive behaviors. There are also non-12-Step support groups, that meet in person, via phone, or on the Internet.
All of the above methods can be highly effective, and what you find to be most helpful in your case can be a journey in and of itself. Your needs may change over time, too. Listen to your intuition.
One key ingredient is that no matter what your current difficulty, you recognize that you are a person, not a problem. You have strengths as well as those areas on which you’d like to work. Valuing yourself as a human being and recognizing your unique gifts are essential. It’s at least as important to identify and focus on what you have going for you and where you want to be headed, as to acknowledge where you’ve been and are currently. So, ask yourself some questions:
1) What is it I want? Instead of my current situation, what would I prefer? Let’s say you currently struggle with the munchies late at night. Cuddling up with a bag of Doritos provides comfort at the time, but then you fall into a food coma and wake up the following morning you feel bloated and hungover. You might prefer to eat a moderate dinner, skip the Doritos, sleep well, and arise feeling refreshed, clear-headed, and with ample energy the next day.
2) What am I willing to do to get where I want to be? As has been said, if nothing changes, nothing changes. What are you willing to do differently, even if at this point you’re not sure exactly how (don’t worry, you’ll get help with the particulars)? In the above scenario, are you willing to learn and practice tolerating some emotional discomfort without pulling out the chips? Are you willing to look at what parts of your life might be causing you this discomfort?
3) What are my current resources and strengths? Why do I think I can accomplish this?Do you have supportive family members and friends? Have you faced similar situations in the past and found effective ways of dealing with them? If not, do you have access to professionals or peers who can help you develop new skills?
4) What is one thing I can do today to move closer toward this goal? Making changes can feel overwhelming. Unfortunately, the longer you put off making desired changes, the more overwhelming such a change can feel. The flip side is also true — taking just one small step can help build your confidence and propel you forward. Skipping the Doritos just for tonight (you can always have them tomorrow), attending a support group, making an appointment with a mental health professional, practicing meditation for ten minutes — one of these can help enforce your choice to move forward.
The path of personal growth inevitably has its share of rocky areas, but such patches can be traversed more easily if you keep your eye on the goal, be patient and gentle with yourself, and take consistent steps (even if at times you falter) in your desired direction.